From Endurance to Dressage
Riding with Dr. Christian Schacht is a true privilege. He has a remarkable ability to "fix" whatever a rider is struggling with. He is famous for saying What trouble? This is a lovely horse; there's no problem here! This comes 20 minutes into the lesson after you've struggled with whatever for 6 months at home. He just sees what the horse needs you to do, and he makes your body do it.
On Saturday, I learned that what I need to do is persistently kick with my inside leg and build a wall with my outside aids until Izzy accepts my leg. My feel for when to soften is actually pretty good; I just need to be more relentless in the asking phase.
Before riding on both days, I warmed Izzy up in the round pen with the sliding side reins. On Saturday, I cut him slack when he tried to crowd me. He was in a new place and was lacking confidence. I tried to support him by being reassuring. By Sunday, I was over his clinginess. As we walked down to the round pen, he stepped on the back of my heel, tearing it nearly clean away from the boot.
All sympathy for my 1,200 pound cry baby vanished. I jerked him backwards and told him to get the hell off me. When he wanted to crowd me in the round pen, I informed him that I had a whip and was not afraid to use it. While he didn't magically soften and turn into a unicorn, he did look at me with a whole lot more respect.
I carried that unsympathetic attitude into the ring. I told Christian that Izzy needed a serious butt-kicking, so there was to be no taking it easy (not that Christian ever takes it easy on me).
From the instant that we walked into the ring, I was all business. I shortened that outside rein and dug in with my inside heel, and I never let up.
For every moment of that lesson, I was completely focused on engaging that inside hind leg, and I quit worrying about where his head was.
The more relentless that I was, the deeper that inside leg started to reach. And as a consequence, his front legs also started to really cross over. As we leg yielded out on the circle, I could really feel him stretching over his back as his hind end finally started working.
Christian helped me feel how much leg I need - and can use, on this horse. It's a lot. I had my baby spurs dug into his sides. He wasn't fearful or resentful, but he didn't want to happily volunteer hard work either.
As the lesson progressed, Izzy finally started to swing through his back and yield to my inside leg. Now that I know what it takes to get him legitimately "through," you can bet that he and my inside leg are going to become the very best of friends.
Unlike the day before, we finally got to leave the 20-meter circle. Christian had us working the 10-meter circles in a figure-eight as well as doing lots of cantering in two-point.
We didn't look like a going First Level team, or even a going Training Level team, but by the end of that second day, Izzy did look more and more like a dressage horse in training. I got some more tools for my belt, some new "feels" to shoot for, and Izzy got a lot of exposure to new and different things. The clinic was a huge success for us.
I am hoping to squeeze in one more lesson with Chemaine before we head off for vacation in two weeks. Now that we're on a roll, I don't want to lose any momentum!
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at Second Level. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2021 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
(Q) Must Qualify
2021 Pending …
3/6-7 El Sueño (***)
4/17-18 El Sueño (***)
5/16-17 El Sueño (***)
5/23 TMC (*)
6/12-13 SB (***) OR
6/19-20 El Sueño (***)
6/27 TMC (*)
7/3-4 Burbank (***) OR
7/17-18 El Sueño (***)
7/25 TMC (*)
8/14-15 RAAC (Q) (***)
8/29 TMC (*)
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
2021 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2nd Level Qualifying
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 60.610% Bhathal
2nd Level Qualifying
5 Scores/4 Judges/61%:
Stuff I Read